Advertisement

Passersby Ignored Attack Victim’s Screams, Police Say

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Moorpark rape victim told police she is angry at passersby who ignored her screams as she and her two young children were abducted from a busy supermarket parking lot earlier this week.

The 23-year-old woman, her toddler and 5-year-old were abducted from a well-lighted section of the Hughes Market parking lot, 101 W. Los Angeles Ave., about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The man forced her to drive to a nearby rural area where he raped her, Ventura County Detective Cheryl Bassett said.

Sheriff’s deputies on Friday afternoon arrested Manuel Gutierrez, 43, of the 200 block of Sierra Avenue in Moorpark in connection with the crime. Gutierrez, who deputies said has a criminal record, is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail in the Ventura County Jail.

The woman said about a half-dozen people walked near her car during the abduction but did not bother to assist her or notify the police, Bassett said.

Advertisement

“She said she is just as angry about the fact that no one came to her aid as she is about being victimized,” Bassett said.

The woman had gone to Hughes Market with her children to rent a carpet shampooer, Bassett said. She was approached by the man as she was preparing to leave the parking lot.

After fastening the toddler in a car seat, the mother was opening the passenger-side door for her 5-year-old when the man suddenly came up behind her and stuck what felt like a gun into her ribs, Bassett said.

As the man forced her into the car, the woman began screaming and did not stop until he choked her, Bassett said. Meanwhile, people passed in and out of the store. One man, the woman told the police, was standing just three parking spaces away and watched as the woman screamed and was choked.

Advertisement

No one tried to help, Bassett said, even when the man forced the woman to back her car over the carpet shampooer that she had placed near her trunk, Bassett said.

“She made noise. She tried to alert (those) nearby,” Lt. Tony Ditzhazy said.

“Isn’t it disgusting no one helped her?” Bassett said.

Although the woman determined that her assailant had no weapon, he held the 5-year-old by the throat and threatened to choke the child if she did not follow his orders. She drove to the a hilly rural area off Bradley Road northwest of the city. There, the man forced her out of the car and raped her by the side of the road.

The mother told police that she might have been able to escape from the man, Bassett said, but that she could not leave her children in the car. The woman also said she believes the children did not witness the rape.

The assailant then forced the woman to drive him back to Moorpark, where she dropped him off in what turned out to be his neighborhood.

Although no other witnesses came forward, the victim helped police locate and identify the suspect, Bassett said.


Advertisement